Evaluating E-Learning

ID: 50023 Type: Workshop
  1. Thomas Reeves, The University of Georgia, United States

Tuesday, November 15 1:30 PM-5:00 PM

To conduct a comprehensive evaluation of e-learning requires a "triangulation" approach whereby multiple models and procedures are applied. Conducting comprehensive evaluations of e-learning in a timely and efficient manner is the focus of this workshop. Why is evaluation of e-learning so important? Commercially produced or locally developed e-learning programs are being developed and implemented around the globe. These programs are promoted as effective and efficient solutions to education and training problems. Yet systematic evaluation of the implementation and efficacy of these e-learning programs is often lacking. This workshop is specifically designed to establish evaluation as a key strategy throughout the design, development, and implementation of e-learning at all levels of education and training.


Workshop participants will be able to perform the following tasks: 1. Describe thee major paradigms for evaluation in education and training. 2. Distinguish between: a. assessment and evaluation; b. internal and external evaluation; c. intrinsic and extrinsic evaluation; and d. formative and summative evaluation. 3. Identify and choose among six functions of evaluation for e-learning: a. review; b. needs assessment; c. formative evaluation; d. effectiveness evaluation; e. impact evaluation; and f. maintenance evaluation. 4. Outline an evaluation plan for an e-learning program focused on decisions, questions, and mixed methods. 5. Recognize the advantages and limitations of e-learning evaluation.

Topical Outline

The workshop will begin with an authentic task. The participants will be asked to work in pairs to outline a simple evaluation plan for an e-learning program. There will be two scenarios for this activity, one focused on higher education and one focused on business, assuming that there would be participants from both sectors there. This activity will take 20 minutes. The plan outlines will be set aside for comparison with the plans that the participants develop at the end of the workshop. The next sections of the workshop include short presentations on the following topics: • Recognizing your own evaluation paradigm • Establishing a rationale for evaluating e-learning in your organization • Six functions of e-learning evaluation • Preparing an evaluation plan focused on decision-making • Specific strategies and tools for evaluating e-learning • Case studies from higher education and corporate training After these presentations, participants will then work in pairs to outline a new evaluation plan that is informed by the content of the presentations. Several pairs will be asked to present their plans so that feedback can be provided. The workshop will conclude with a presentation of realistic final thoughts about the challenges of evaluating e-learning. Participants will be invited to ask questions at any time during the workshop as well as at the conclusion.


Participants should be familiar with the concept of e-learning. Ideally, they would have some experience designing or implementing e-learning.

Experience Level



Thomas C. Reeves is a Professor Emeritus of Learning, Design, and Technology in the College of Education at The University of Georgia. He is former Fulbright Lecturer in Peru and he has been an invited speaker in the USA and more than 30 other countries. In 2003, he received the Fellowship Award from the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), in 2010 he was made a Fellow of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE), and in 2013 he received the Lifetime Award from the International Association for Development of the Information Society (IADIS) as well as the David H. Jonassen Excellence in Research Award from the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). His books include Interactive Learning Systems Evaluation (with John Hedberg), A Guide to Authentic E-Learning (with Jan Herrington and Ron Oliver), Conducting Educational Design Research (with Susan McKenney), and MOOCs and Open Education around the World (with Curt Bonk, Mimi Lee, and Tom Reynolds). He consults with the World Health Organization and other organizations on the development of authentic task-based e-learning, and he serves as an external evaluator for research and development projects at universities and other institutions.


Conference attendees are able to comment on papers, view the full text and slides, and attend live presentations. If you are an attendee, please login to get full access.